Just when you thought things were settling into a rhythm/pattern Week 4 came along and blew it out of the water. Complete turn-around by both Dallas and Colorado in the same game made for the biggest surprise of the week. D.C. eeks out one point with a lot of luck and a controversial call, and L.A. just has to shake it's head wondering what is going on with the officials. Houston makes Vancouver question if it will ever get a point away from home, and Philly holds on for it's 3 points at home against a New York side that doesn't seem to be able to finish a play no matter how well they play through the other 2/3 of the field. Managed one dead on call (DC v LA), 4 correct calls with bad scores (NE v RSL, Houston v Vancouver, Philly v NY, Chivas v Columbus), 2 wrong calls (Seattle v Chicago, SJ v Toronto), and one that was so far off I don't want to acknowledge it happened (Dallas v Colorado).
This week we have 11 total games including the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup in Sandy, Portland's home opener in JELD-WEN Field, L.A. pulling double road duty (@Toronto and @Chicago), and what I think will be Philly's real moment to shine if they take advantage of it.
Click on for the result predictions!
Wednesday April 13th
Real Salt Lake vs Colorado Rapids - This game probably doesn't matter nearly as much to anyone else that doesn't reside within our two states but this will be the game of the week on any front. The last two MLS Cup champions have had a fairly serious and entertaining rivalry for the last 6 years. The teams don't like each other, the fans detest each other, and they also hate each other's team more. It's good fun I tell you. Last year in RSL's home leg they rested several starters because of CCL play. This year Colorado is missing Connor Casey and Pablo Mastroeni. Casey scores against RSL, it's a fact. Him missing cuts a deep gash in Colorado's offense that I am not sure newcomer Folan can cover. While RSL will miss having Will Johnson on the field I am sure that he is more upset with the fact that he is not playing than anything. Overall in the end RSL is just playing better this year. Their first three opponents this year are a combined 4-3-7 with those 3 losses at the hands of RSL. Colorado's first four are a combined 2-8-5 (for first 3 its 1-6-3 if you want a direct comparison). It's easy to look good when you play poor teams, and even one of them was at the bottom of the table up until they thrashed the Rapids last week. I give this one a 3-1 score line in favor of RSL.
Toronto FC vs Los Angeles Galaxy - Oh Toronto, I truly am starting to feel for you. The DeRo/Tchani trade I think is a good thing. A team that isn't doing well with a large ego like that can make the team worse. With DeRo gone to the land of egos and deep pockets Toronto can now start to focus on building a cohesive unit that might still have a chance to bounce back this season. Tchani will bring skill and experience with success that is needed for this team right now. L.A. on the other hand is playing well minus one game. Poor officiating robbed them of 2 points this last weekend and I don't expect them to allow a similar fate occur this week. Beckham seems to have finally showed up and is providing the well played set pieces he has been known for for so long. Now if Donovan can just get back into the groove this team will once again put pressure on everyone else to be better or be left behind. Home or not, Toronto will face another morale crushing defeat, 3-1 Galaxy.
Thursday April 14th
Portland Timbers vs Chicago Fire - Portland's home opener couldn't come at a better time. They need their fan base to help support and lift them after a disappointing start to the season. Some moments of brilliance (about 4 minutes in) have been overshadowed by poor play. On the other side is Chicago who is looking completely mediocre. With the Timbers Army behind them and the excitement and atmosphere of their MLS home debut, I give Portland the nod at 2-1 for their first win of the season. Easily could sit at 1-1 though.
Saturday April 16th
Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders - Seattle seems to be finding their groove at last, and their scoring through O'Brian White. Kasey Keller looks amazing at the age of 41, but I question if he can keep it up through the entire season. They face a very tough test out east in Philadelphia though. The Union are running at 3-1-0 so far with their lone loss being to L.A. earlier this month. They haven't always played pretty this year (last week at NY for example) but it's not always necessary to do so. They are getting results and that's what matters. The home crowd cheering them on will help, but a 2-2 draw comes at the end of this one.
Vancouver vs Chivas U.S.A. - Fraser coming from RSL's coaching staff gives him a place in my heart that he will succeed, but it can't help when you keep having the results go the other way as often as they have so far. They are slowly finding what works at each position, but the key here sadly is "slowly". Vancouver on the other hand has no problems scoring at home, though they also have let in several goals as well. The other helpful fact in this game is that it's Hassli's game that he can play. Next week when they play Dallas may be a different story. 3-1 Vancouver.
Toronto F.C. vs D.C. United - D.C. makes the jaunt northward, and they will be going with a fairly large amount of their luck diminished after the game against the Galaxy. Charlie Davies currently sits atop the race for the Golden Boot with 4 to his name, and I think he will continue to add to that total in this game with another. Both teams will go into this having last faced L.A. but it's Toronto that will be more motivated to make up for their performance the game before. That motivation combined with playing at home and wanting to regain the pride of their fans will push them to a 2-1 victory, and hopefully a confidence boost that will inspire better play from them all.
Columbus Crew vs Sporting Kansas City - Positive for Columbus: They have had 3 clean sheets in a row. Negative for Columbus: They only scored themselves in one of those games. The clean sheets are truly a great feat. I can give nothing but praise for them doing that against teams like New York and Dallas, but when you can't manage to score against Chivas you're going to have a rough go this season at climbing the table. SKC needs to hold on and get what results they can over the next 7 games to bolster their point total before they begin their home games in June. Going into those games with the confidence of a decent away run with push this team to perform better. They will still feel great about making it into their new stadium on June 9th even if they don't quite pull out the record they want, but the difference between an ok season and a great one is going to be the next 7 games. Columbus is going to make things tough though. They have proven they can already defensively, and they might just start showing it offensively as well this week. A 1-1 draw will come, ending the Crew's run of shut outs, but a glimmer of their offensive ability will show again.
New York Red Bulls vs San Jose Earthquakes - New York is wasting money, pure and simple. How can you justify Henry's paycheck when he can't do his job? What's his job? Scoring, and he's not doing it. It's not just him though. Having scored a whopping 2 goals so far this season they need to figure out what to do to get the ball in the back of the net. So far they have benefited from a slow starting Seattle, an offensively derelict Columbus, and a mediocre Houston to get to where they are now. You can say all you want about how you dominated the game Hans Backe, but Philly put it in the net and you didn't. You lose. San Jose's problems have stemmed from a a leakier than it should be back line (4 goals against). They are producing well enough offensively (5 goals for), but if you can't keep it out of your own net you are only keeping pace with your opponent. With records even, but the overall goal difference in San Jose's favor New York will once again be disappointed when their scoring troubles, Henry's absence, and San Jose's scoring ability show them up 2-1. San Jose would also like to simply show they deserved the result they got in last year's playoffs.
Sunday April 17th
Chicago Fire vs L.A. Galaxy - Juan Pablo Angel has been quiet so far this year after his move to L.A. and you have to think that the Galaxy faithful are beginning to worry even if he is not. This may be the game where he starts to shine. Aside from the beat down they suffered from RSL a couple weeks ago the Galaxy have been solid at the back and this is going to cause problems for the Fire. Chicago has managed to score in every game but I don't think anyone they have played so far is at the same level as L.A. is. Chicago will drop another in this game as they fall 3-1 to the Galaxy.
Portland vs F.C. Dallas - The Hoops found their game last week against Colorado, and now they just need to assure themselves with another win here. David Ferreira announced his wife's pregnancy with one of the more unique celebrations I have seen in recent memory, and followed it up with a second on the day. He really showed why he was the league MVP last week and that level of play is needed for Dallas to recreate their success last year. They can't count on a 19 game winning streak to elevate them into the top echelon of the league this season. The Timbers will be quite happy to play their second game at home though, and have a chance to gain some footing in the standings. In the end though, riding the success against Colorado Dallas will show up and push the Timbers hard, frustrating them in the end and walking out of Portland with three points. 2-1 Dallas.
Houston vs New England - Houston's win against Vancouver is a huge confidence booster, and playing their second in a row at home will only help them continue their success. Overall they have been fairly average to start, but their play has only improved after two away trips that saw them walk away with a point against two of the better ranked teams in the league in Seattle and New York. New England is going to sorely miss Joseph and Phelan after their red card's last week against RSL. They need to go back to how they played against L.A. in order to have any chance at coming out of Houston with any points, but the psychological aspect of missing their captain and knowing someone's second team beat you that badly means Houston holds all three home points with a 2-0 win.
So there they are, fewer ties this week will be seen and the field will begin to separate between the greats, and the not so greats. Disagree? Don't keep it to yourself, let me know below in the comments.